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The Language Instinct Audiobook

The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language

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Publisher's Summary

In this classic, the world’s expert on language and mind lucidly explains everything you always wanted to know about language: how it works, how children learn it, how it changes, how the brain computes it, and how it evolved. With deft use of examples of humor and wordplay, Steven Pinker weaves our vast knowledge of language into a compelling story: language is a human instinct, wired into our brains by evolution.

The Language Instinct received the William James Book Prize from the American Psychological Association and the Public Interest Award from the Linguistics Society of America. This edition includes an update on advances in the science of language since The Language Instinct was first published.

©2011 Steven Pinker (P)2011 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Pinker writes with acid verve." (Atlantic Monthly)

"An extremely valuable book, very informative, and very well written." (Noam Chomsky)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (497 )
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4.1 (409 )
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  •  
    Lloyd SOUTHLAKE, TX, United States 09-05-14
    Lloyd SOUTHLAKE, TX, United States 09-05-14
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    "Great Listen. Recommended it to everyone."
    If you could sum up The Language Instinct in three words, what would they be?

    It was a great book. I am a speech therapist so my interest in this topic would probably be greater than other listeners. It can not be stressed enough, the ability to use language is such a driving force, its is what makes is human. Why wouldn't everyone want to know more about it? The fair use doctrine get a bit bruised in the Great Courses on the same topic by borrowing so heavily from this book. I would recommend using this as a great source.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Language Instinct?

    I really like his viewpoint when discussing how monkeys have DNA that is 99% identical to human. His discussion on evolution was insightful. It really put it in prospective.


    Which character – as performed by Arthur Morey – was your favorite?

    IT was Fine. His frontal lisp (distortion of "s") was noticeable but not a distraction. I only mention it because others made a big deal about it.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It was a book I did not want to stop listening. But I am unique in my appreciation of his book. I think the average person who is interested in the topic would really like it. It get a bit boggy around chapter four. It's readability level might require someone to possess an undergraduate or graduate degree.


    Any additional comments?

    It does listen like a text book but is that bad?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dimitri 09-02-14
    Dimitri 09-02-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Long-winded and boring"

    I happened to start listening to this book after listening to a few of The Great Courses lectures on language by John McWorther, which were excellent - both interesting and entertaining.
    This book, in comparison, sounds almost like a textbook on linguistics. The concepts a much belaboured on, with excruciating details of the experiments conducted, complete with tedious and long explanations of what it means; when most people would get it themselves early into the passage.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CHET YARBROUGH LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 06-29-14
    CHET YARBROUGH LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 06-29-14 Member Since 2015

    Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.

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    "HUMAN LANGUAGE"

    “The Language Instinct” explores the origin and mechanics of human language. The author, Steven Pinker, offers more than a dilettante wants to know about language mechanics. But, Pinker offers credible and interesting information about where human language comes from and how it evolves.

    There are many digressions in Pinker’s book about mechanics of speech, language dialects, and specific language disabilities. He criticizes some writers for improper use of language and enlightens listeners about the teachings of Norm Chomsky.

    Changes in human language, according to Pinker, are an evolutionary inevitability. The complicated process of language creation is always in a state of change.

    Pinker delves into dialects of language that differ by population cohort, environmental interaction, and social interchange. Pinker argues for continuation of rule-making in language but discounts belief that rules should not, cannot, or will not change. Pinker infers language rules should keep pace with common understanding and clear communication.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amanda Markham Australia 02-16-14
    Amanda Markham Australia 02-16-14 Listener Since 2008
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    "Narrators MUST Do Their Homework"
    What did you like best about this story?

    I'd originally read The Language Instinct about ten years ago, so I knew what to expect. My feelings about the book haven't changed - I think throwing out the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis completely and Pinker's ridiculous attack on the social sciences weaken an otherwise excellent book. I was pleased to see that this new version includes updates with the latest research.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Arthur Morey’s performances?

    Morey's performance was average at best. When reading a technical/academic text like this, mispronunciations of terms and the names of Amazonian and Australian Aboriginal peoples is unforgivable. 'Warrrlll-pearee' for Warlpiri (prounounced wall-PREE)? Really?


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael United States 06-28-13
    Michael United States 06-28-13 Member Since 2010
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    "Textbook For Linguists"
    Any additional comments?

    I have always had an interest in language, but this book goes WAY too in-depth for my interests. I enjoyed the first quarter of the book and it held my interest with cognitive science and evolutionary theory related to language development. Then it moved long-term into highly-detailed language structure and other details that couldn't hold my attention - think 9th grade grammar on steroids. I stuck with it for a few more hours and also tried skipping ahead, but I knew I was wasting my time and bailed on it half way through. It didn't help that the narrator is the type who over-enunciates and has a passionless, unnatural speaking style that reminds you with every syllable that they are a professional narrator with apparently zero interest in the topic.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Riona Johannesburg, South Africa 06-21-13
    Riona Johannesburg, South Africa 06-21-13
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    "Interesting but more technical than expected"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    This is a long book, and I found myself skipping forwards through sections as it does become quite technical in parts - more so than I expected.

    having said that, it is full of information, interesting anecdotes and case studies, but some of it is difficult to listen to (as opposed to read) given how complex the detail in parts


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rick Irving, Texas 05-22-13
    Rick Irving, Texas 05-22-13 Member Since 2003

    Rick

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    "Books on language are best on audio"

    This is a reissue of a classic book from 1994. Arthur's reading is well paced with a calm manor allowing the listener to follow some intense sentence diagrams without the expected PTSD flashbacks from Mrs. Thomas' 8th grade English class. It is an enjoyable book, an interesting subject, precisely written, read well.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Blake Portland, OR, United States 04-14-13
    Blake Portland, OR, United States 04-14-13 Member Since 2016
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    "Dense, slow, dry, technical and totally brilliant"

    I'm kind of conflicted about this book. On one hand, I had some serious difficulty managing to slog through it. Even in his more recent books, Pinker has a hard time making his information tell a story that holds the reader's interest (to his credit, he's gotten a little better in his last couple of books). This being an earlier work, you get to see him take nerd to a level you might not even realize existed without much in the way of charm or readability. His ability to get way too involved in over analyzing the mist insignificant details is both what makes him so fascinating and at the same boring beyond measure.

    With all that said, sometimes people are in the mood for actually understanding something. Nonfiction books are supposed to be educational, but too often they are dumbed down and simplified, which can be quite unsatisfying. Sometimes slogging through difficult material can give greater rewards than books that spoon feed and smooth out the edges. Sometimes the tangents that analyze minute details satisfy curiosities that might otherwise linger. Pinker certainly "leaves no stone unturned", as the cliché goes. The result is that I really feel like I learned something instead of reading fluff or unbalanced ideology. Pinker does spend a little too much time getting into the nerd version of pissing matches with his contemporaries, but this isn't the worst example of this I've seen from him.

    I've gone back and forth on whether to give this book 3 or 4 stars. I guess it's one book that can fit all over the rating scale for different reasons. But I am very glad I read it, and other people who like to get to the bottom of things will too.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ken Premo Los Angeles 04-06-13
    Ken Premo Los Angeles 04-06-13 Member Since 2004
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    "Thought provoking and clearly written"

    I was initially concerned by the length of this book, being a sign that I was in for a tedious listen. How pleasantly surprised I was by this clearly written and interesting work. Fascinating look at how similar all languages are and how they evolve over time. Pinker shows that for the human species, language is instinctual. Highly recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Randy Bakersfield, CA, United States 03-30-13
    Randy Bakersfield, CA, United States 03-30-13 Member Since 2012

    Band guy who always wants to be better at something.

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    "Not your typical linguistic book."
    What did you love best about The Language Instinct?

    This book delves into the history and evolution of language. It's nice to get the "how we got here", which is much more enlightening.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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